Hollywood Film Studios in the Twenties

         It was during the 1920's that studios became factories for large-scale productions of mass commercial entertainment. There were three film giants at the beginning of the 1920's and they were Zukor's Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, Loew's, Inc., and First National. United Artists was formed in 1919 by four prominent film artists, D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks. In 1924, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) emerged as a result of merger of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Productions (Loew's Inc.) (Cook 169-70).

         Another string of studios were referred to as the "Little Five" were made up of Fox Film Corp., Producers Distributing Corp. (PDC), film Booking Office (FBO), Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Pictures. Warner Bros. pictures eventually forced the industry to convert to sound by introducing the Vitaphone process in 1926 and also absorbed First National during this process (Cook 170)

        One individual who made a fairly large impact during the twenties was Thomas Harper Ince. He was an actor-director who started his own studio, Inceville, near Hollywood in 1912. He built his studio into the first recognizable modern Hollywood studio between 1914 and 1915. It was complete with five self-contained shooting stages, which became the prototype for the very organized studio system that dominated the American film industry for the following forty years. His organized procedure was very popular, which was the opposite of D. W. Griffith style of improvising, and the very reason why Griffith was not part of the future of the film business for much longer (Cook 171).

         A large studio that was later built by Ince at Culver City ended up being the future home of MGM ten years later. Ince produced feature films until he died in 1924. During his career, he introduced the detailed scenario, also referred to as the continuity script, to the film making process. He also pioneered the studio system of production. He gave several talented actors and directors their first break in the film industry. For these reasons, he deserves recognition for his many great contributions to the studio and film advancement during the twenties (Cook 171-72).

Work Cited

Cook, David. A History of Narrative Film. 4th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2004.

Susan Marinoff

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